Boks put unchanged team to the test

Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel set to break centre pairing record

Bok captain Siya Kolisi will lead an unchanged team against Ireland in Durban on Saturday
Bok captain Siya Kolisi will lead an unchanged team against Ireland in Durban on Saturday
Image: Anton Geyser

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus named the most experienced starting team in Springbok history when he retained the same 23 players for the second Test against Ireland in Durban on Saturday.

The starting team is 10 caps short of the 1,000 mark, which is three more than the 987 caps amassed by the run-on team in the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand in France last year.

Naming an unchanged team will be a huge boost for the Boks as they try to clinch the two-Test series.

Ireland, by contrast, will be forced into changes with at least two players who did duty at Loftus unavailable this weekend. 

The team is littered by decorated warriors with Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel set to become the most capped Bok centre pairing when they run out for the 30th time on Saturday.

Curiously, head coach Rassie Erasmus did not want to revel in the weight of experience his team will bring to the second Test.

“We don’t look at such things when we select the team, but this shows how blessed we are with the depth in the squad and the quality of the players we have.

While it may be an impressive statistic, it will by no means guarantee us a victory. We know we must go out there and play good rugby for the full 80 minutes to get the desired result.”

The long and decorated CVs in his starting team aside, Erasmus declared himself pleased with the performances he saw from the bench in the first Test in Pretoria which the Boks won 27-20.

He expects Gerhard Steenekamp (prop), Salmaan Moerat (lock) and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (utility back) to go a level up from last week.

They all made a strong impact off the bench and they have immense potential as individuals,” said Erasmus.

“They’ll definitely become more confident and settled the more they play.

It was impressive to see them step up to the challenge of facing a top side such as Ireland and, similarly to the rest of the team, they know this weekend will be an even bigger test, but they’ll be up for the challenge.”

The first Test was brutal and Erasmus expects the second to be no different as Ireland hope to square matters and avoid a series defeat in South Africa for the first time.

This is going to be another physically gruelling match, and just like us, they will be determined to correct the wrongs of last week.

There is also the other important matter of them of trying to draw the series, while we would be delighted to win both matches, which will fuel their motivation, so it is going to be another spectacle of top-class rugby.”

Erasmus announced a handful of players would be released from the 39-man squad to appear in Currie Cup matches this weekend. The players who will be released will be confirmed on Wednesday and will rejoin the squad on Sunday.

Springbok team to face Ireland:

Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Kurt-Lee Arendse; Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain); Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nché. Substitutes: Malcolm Marx, Gerhard Steenekamp, Vincent Koch, Salmaan Moerat, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden; Grant Williams, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.


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